The respected scholar presented a lec-dem on this raga on the 22nd of December at the Music Academy.
Why bEgaDa? Dr RSJ said that she had taken up this raga for discussion mainly because unlike several others, it had not changed its svaras over time. But its presentation had changed considerably. Her presentation focused on the changes in bEgaDa as traced in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini.
The book has under this raga, a lakshaNa shlOka of Muddu Venkatamakhin, a gItam, no tAnam, two kritis of Muttuswami Dikshitar (shrI mAta and tyAgarAjAya namastE) and a sancAri by Subbarama Dikshitar. Over this canvas, the speaker traced the changes as evinced in the 17th (gItam), 18th (Muttuswami Dikshitar kritis) and 19th (Subbarama Dikshitar sancAri) centuries.
The lakshaNa shlOka has the raga as being devoid of R in the ArOhana. Subbarama Diskhitar qualifies it as a bhAShAnga and one that can be sung at all times. There is no gamaka sign or indication of svara type in the gItams and so we can only assume these. The shlOka significantly enough does not mention that D is also absent.
The mUrchana is given as
S G M P N N S
S N D P M G R S
According to the Pradarsini, the ancient prayogas in the raga include S G M P D N D P N S, S N DN S, N S D R S. Perhaps even in ancient times the use of D on the ascent was allowed and that was why its absence was not mentioned in the shloka.
The Sangrahachudamani classifies this raga under the 29th mELa and gives it the scale of
S G R M P D P S
S N D P M G R S
The anubandam of this work has a gItam and it has the prayoga S G R G M P D N D P S. In 1800 or thereabouts Tiruvenkata Kavi gives the raga the structure of S G R G M P D P S/ S N D P M G R S
The Mahabharatachudamani calls this raga bEkaTai and classifies it under the 29th mELa. It is given the scale of S G R G M P D P S/ S N D P M G R S
The Ragalakshanamu of Tulaja has what the Pradarsini later said. In Hindustani music there is a raga called bihAgDa under the bilAval thAT.
When Dr RSJ played on the veena and sang the gItam given in the Pradarsini, it sounded completely like shankarAbharaNam. Some of the prayogas were
There is no sign of what N was used or what gamakas were used.
It was interesting to find that Muttuswami Dikshitar used the old prayogas in his songs. tyAgarAjAya namastE was played in part. The song when played from the book, begins from kAkali niShAda and then in the second sangati resumes from shaDja unlike today when both sangatis are sung from top S. In this tradition, kaisiki N is used in phrases such as GMPDN_DP but kAkali is used in phrases such as SNDP.
It is clear however, that Dikshitar used his own manOdharma too. There are new prayogas in his songs such as SMGRS, SGM and SNDNS.
Phrases such as PNDDRS and SGRGMP were brought in by Subbarama Dikshitar but he appears to have dropped SNDNS.
Muttuswami Dikshitar uses PN(kAkali) S. Today this is avoided in alapanas and swaras but it still appears in kritis.
The usage of N is varied. Dikshitar uses it as follows:
The usage of bEgaDa in Tyagaraja kritis was taken up next. The notations in works show that phrases such as SGRGM and SGM are used but SNDNS/PNS are dropped. The same goes for Syama Sastry’s varnam which however suffers from completely different versions in various books. But it also avoids the latter phrases.
The speaker traced further changes in the raga with time. The usage of the N in particular and the question of where the kAkali or kaisiki N is to be used has changed considerably and today the latter is mainly used. The opposite was the case till 1950 or thereabouts.
In the summing up, PS Narayanaswami humorously remarked that bEgaDa is a raga where no svara appears to be in its place.